Michael Rucci, Ultimate Technophile, Crafts Synths From Old Nintendos

Categories: Digitalia

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Synth people are a weird bunch, usually hollow-eyed Neuromancers conjuring strange gods through the use of noise and sound made with bizarre hunks of electronica no sane person would ever dub a musical instrument.

We've known a few, okay? If Ataris made breakfast, most of them would never leave the house except to re-rent Videodrome.

But they are also some of the greatest musicians and innovators we've ever known. Frankly, Rocks Off gets a little girly feeling every time one of them ascends from the basement to lay their beeps and boops upon us.

But all the technophiles must bow before an Oakland, Calif., man called Michael Rucci.

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Combining the pure joy that is 8-bit game nostalgia with the sonic insanity of EBM noise, Rucci (right) has crafted synths from old Nintendo Entertainment System controllers.

"When I build a synthesizer I enjoy finding ways to use parts from broken or outdated devices," says Rucci. "Video-game controllers are excellent re-purposed as electronic instruments, since they contain interactive elements like buttons and were also originally designed to feel nice in your hands."

The process behind constructing one of Rucci's synths consists of finding a device or casing to use, and trying to make use of as much of the original controls as possible while making it interesting to play as an instrument.

The physical process requires experimenting with different components until he's happy with it, then soldering it up by hand and finally squeezing it all back together.

Though initially reluctant to part with his creations, Rucci has recently set up an online store for the purpose of making his work available to the public.

"It is hard to part with my devices, although I do enjoy sharing them with others," he says. "I have yet to record any of my own music with them, but I do play them quite a bit before parting with them.

"Honestly, I'm surprised to find people as interested in them as I am myself. I guess it was friends who convinced me to try and sell them."

As much a work of modern art as a means to produce modern music, Rucci's synths are the perfect gift for anyone's who's ever wanted to meld music with memories of Mario.


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